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North Korea last week seized Russian fishing vessels with 17 crew members accusing them of violating entry rules.
The Russian embassy in Pyongyang yesterday said the Korean border on July 17 captured Xianghailin-8 fishing vessel of Russia’s Northeastern Fishing Company with alleged violations of immigration rules. North Korea is holding ships and crew of 15 Russians and two Koreans in Wonsan.
Deputy director of Northeast Fishing Company Sergei Sedler said the ship went from South Korea to the Japanese sea and was arrested when about 55 nautical miles from the Korean border. The crew is interrogated every two days.
Russian embassy officials met the captain and a Russian vice-captain at the beginning of the week with two South Korean sailors at a hotel in Wonsan. “All crew members are in good health,” the Russian embassy announced and added that they were clarifying what had happened. South Korea said it is working with Russia to ensure citizens’ safety.
Pyongyang said the captain had “admittedly violated the Korean border” and they were inspecting the ship. “If no violations are found during the inspection, the boat will be released,” the North Korean official announced.
Russian seafood agency Rosrybolovstvo opposes Korea’s actions. “We consider the abduction to be illegal because under international law it is permissible to move through the exclusive economic zone. According to Rosrybolovstvo’s surveillance system, the ship has kept its distance from the Korean coast. and move outside this territorial sea, “the agency announced.
Russia maintains a relatively close relationship with North Korea and is a trading partner with the country. South Korea has sought to ease tensions with its neighbors, but Koreans are banned by the government from going to Korea without Seoul’s permission.